The World Heritage Committee, meeting in Riyadh until 25 September, decided today to inscribe the sites of "The Saint Sophia Cathedral and Related Monastic Buildings and Lavra of Kyiv-Pechersk" and "L’viv – the ensemble of the historic centre" on the List of World Heritage in Danger, due to the threat of destruction the Russian offensive poses.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee considers that "“optimal conditions are no longer met to fully guarantee the protection of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and that it is threatened by potential danger due to the war”". Faced with the risk of direct attack, these sites are also vulnerable to the shockwaves caused by the bombing of the two cities.
While noting the many actions taken by the Ukrainian authorities to protect their cultural property, the Committee stated that these two heritage sites of outstanding universal value have remained under permanent threat since the start of the invasion on 24 February 2022.
Their inclusion on the List of World Heritage in Danger reminds the 195 States parties to the Convention of their responsibility to monitor and contribute to the protection of these sites. It also opens the door to additional financial and technical aid in order to implement new emergency measures - in line with the measures already taken by Ukraine with UNESCO.
The inclusion of these two sites on the List of World Heritage in Danger comes in addition to that of the Historic Centre of Odesa, already inscribed in January 2023.
Kyiv's Saint Sophia Cathedral symbolises the "new Constantinople", capital of the Christian principality created in the 11th century in a region converted to Christianity after the baptism of Saint Vladimir in 988. The spiritual and intellectual influence of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra contributed to the spread of the Orthodox faith and thought on the European continent in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The site has been on the World Heritage List since 1990.
Founded in the late Middle Ages, the city of L’viv flourished as an administrative, religious, commercial and cultural centre from the 13th to the 20th centuries. Its medieval urban topography has been preserved intact, in particular the traces of the different ethnic communities that lived there, as well as the magnificent Baroque and later buildings. The historic centre of L’viv was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1998.
Image : Ko Hon Chiu Vincent
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